Home » Bookstores, Non-US » In Hong Kong’s book industry, ‘everybody is scared’

In Hong Kong’s book industry, ‘everybody is scared’

31 December 2016

From The Guardian:

Just over a year after five publishers and booksellers disappeared from Hong Kong in mysterious circumstances, the Chinese territory’s book industry has been shaken to the core.

Bookshops have closed. Publishers have left. Authors have stopped writing. Books have been pulped. Printers are refusing political works. Translators have grown weary of being associated with certain topics. Readers have stopped buying. And the whole industry is wondering if hard-hitting books on Chinese politics still have a future in the former British colony.

The booksellers involved, formerly known only to a small niche of insiders, have now become household names in Hong Kong: Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen, remains jailed in an undisclosed location in China after he was kidnapped from his holiday home in Thailand. Lee Bo, a British national who was lifted off the streets of Hong Kong and taken to China against his will has been released and allowed to return, but has consistently refused to give a full account of what has happened to him. He remains in China. Lui Por and Cheung Chi-ping, two clerks at Causeway Bay Books, the bookshop at the centre of the case, disappeared while on a visit to Shenzhen. They are also formally free, but live across the border where they have refused to entertain calls from the press and former associates.

The booksellers were pressured into televised confessions broadcast on national TV, in which they admitted to a variety of crimes – from a hit-and-run incident to mailing to sending Chinese clients forbidden Hong Kong books without a licence. Only Lam Wing-kee has jumped bail while on a visit to Hong Kong in June to retrieve a computer database. He has since spoken out against his ordeal, which included “isolation and psychological torture”, threats and being denied access to a lawyer.

. . . .

As more Chinese visitors had been allowed to travel to Hong Kong withoutvisas, shopping for politically revealing books forbidden in the rest of the country had become widespread. Some had been dubbed “democracy tourists” by activists who’d see them also taking part, or observing, pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Until the Causeway Bay case, these books were easy to buy, allowing Chinese citizens to gain a glimpse – not always truthful – of the inner workings of their opaque leaders.

. . . .

This is no longer the case. Since April, the 16 bookstores at the Hong Kong International Airport have been cut down to 10. The biggest five are now controlled by Chung Hwa Book Co, a company that was established in Shanghai in 1912 and is now under Sino United Publishing, a mainland-backed conglomerate that owns most Hong Kong bookshops – and where the “forbidden” books are mostly unavailable.

Critical, gossipy books have also disappeared from the ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores and other 24-hour mini-supermarkets. A clerk at a 7-Eleven outlet in Hollywood Road, a central street well-known to tourists for its antique shops, only says that this was a decision by the management, as the books were “still selling”.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Bookstores, Non-US

4 Comments to “In Hong Kong’s book industry, ‘everybody is scared’”

  1. “Translators have grown weary of being associated with certain topics.”

    Wary maybe?

    Makes me glad I’m here, warts and all.

  2. I see a solution: Revolt.

  3. Thanks for posting the link to this story, I had not seen it. Sad way to start the new year. But with what is going on in the U.S. – the attempts to silence some voices = 2017 holds some dangers for us. Maybe the Communist regime in China will label the Hong Kong publishers “Fake News”.

  4. China is legitimately the most evil country on the planet. This is some seriously scary stuff.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.